About a half a century after the French Revolution, a French author named Jules Verne also began imagining an alternative future, and in the process he gave birth to the genre of science fiction. Verne envisioned a future in which technology was much more advanced than the technology of the mid-nineteenth century. Verne envisioned a more interconnected world where the contributions of scientists were valued and innovation was celebrated. He provided readers with glimpses of the future that he envisioned through the pages of his novels, such as From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Verne died in 1905, but the genre that he started is alive and prospering, and it is well represented in our English Department. Several members of our department have taken a serious interest in science fiction, including Aaron Toscano, Sandy Govan, and Andrew Hartley.
Aaron regularly teaches works of science fiction in his classes. In fact, the honors seminar that he developed and taught is focused on science fiction. Aaron has also written a scholarly article that relates to Isaac Asimov’s classic 1950 work of science fiction, I, Robot. Aaron’s article is titled “Using I, Robot in the Technical Writing Classroom: Developing a Critical Technological Awareness,” and it appeared in Computers and Composition.
Sandy (who retired several years ago but who is still very much a member of our department) has an ongoing interest in African American writers of science fiction. Sandy has a particular interest in Octavia Butler, the author of Parable of the Sower and many other works of science fiction. Sandy has published a number of scholarly articles about Butler’s work, including “Connections, Links, and Extended Networks in Octavia Butler’s Science Fiction,” which appeared in Black American Literature Forum.
Andrew has taken an interest in writing science fiction. He recently published a science fiction novel titled Cathedrals of Glass: Planet of Blood and Ice. He is also co-writing a science fiction series called the Sekret Machines series (co-written with Blink 182 front man, Tom DeLonge). The first book in this series is titled Chasing Shadows.
As Aaron, Sandy, and Andrew can attest, science fiction provides a lens through which we can see future possibilities. There is something inherently revolutionary about science fiction, for it is predicated on the assumption that our present conditions are changeable. No one knows for certain what is in store for us in the future, but science fiction authors can help us imagine what the future might look like and in the process help us look at our present world from a different perspective.For those of you who are interested in participating in a science fiction reading group, you will be pleased to know that Aaron and honorary member of the English Department Alison Walsh have started a book club they call The RITAs (Reading Interesting Tales Association). On Bastille Day (7/14) the group will be discussing The Handmaid’s Tale. Next month on 8/18–the Friday before classes start–the group will be discussing Octavia Butler’s Dawn. If you are interested in participating in this group, please contact Aaron.
New Members of the Honors Faculty — The Honors College recently appointed Jeffrey Leak, Janaka Lewis, and Aaron Toscano to the Honors Faculty. In their letters of appointment, Malin Pereira wrote, “Only full-time faculty who have already taught and/or served honors programs on campus or at another institution are eligible for Honor Faculty appointment and, thus for assuming governance roles for honors. It is an honor and also a responsibility.”
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Allison Hutchcraft completed a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences in the mountains of North Georgia.
Sam Shapiro published a review of a book about American films from the 1970s in the Charlotte Observer. Here is the link: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/books/article159474939.html
Quirky Quiz Question — Several leaders of the American Revolution went on to support the French Revolution, including the famous pamphleteer who wrote Common Sense and Rights of Man. Does anybody know the name of this writer?
When Balaka Basu gave her presentation last summer at the L.M. Montgomery Institute’s 12th Biennial Conference, she traveled to Canada’s smallest province, which is also the setting for Anne of Green Gables. Does anybody know the name of this province? Here is an extra credit question: What does the capital of this province have in common with our city?